Alfred Aroga happy to have paved path for foreign student-athletes to hoist trophies
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Jul 16, 2020 02:52 PM
Alfred Aroga re-opened the floodgates for the likes of Ben Mbala, Bright Akhuetie, and Soulemane Chabi Yo to make an immediate impact
Up until now, Alfred Aroga is the first and only foreign student-athlete to be hailed as UAAP Finals MVP.
Averaging a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds in the three-game championship round, Aroga lifted National University to its first title since 1954. "I think I got that trophy through my teammates because without my teammates, I couldn't have that," he said in The Prospects Pod last Friday, recalling that fairytale ending to their Cinderella story.
That trophy was just the cherry on top of the cake that was an impressive season that saw the Cameroonian stand strong as the difference-maker for the Bulldogs.
The blue and gold rode a dominant defense in its magical run through the playoffs and all the way to the mountaintop - and Aroga was the anchor for all of that.
In the end, the 6-foot-7 center proved that FSAs could be difference-makers for championship teams - and ultimately, award-winners as well. "I feel like me, as a foreigner, winning that kind of trophy gave a boost to all the foreigners to hope to do the same. Whenever somebody does something in life, it will push the rest to do the same thing," he said.
Indeed, after Aroga's Finals MVP, fellow Cameroonian Ben Mbala took home Season MVP in back-to-back years for De La Salle University and was then followed by the University of the Philippines' Bright Akhuetie from Nigeria and University of Sto. Tomas' Soulemane Chabi Yo from Benin.
"Guess what happened? Mbala came after and he messed up the UAAP," the proud product of National U said. "It's a blessing for me to have (the Finals MVP) because I feel it was like a wake-up call for the other that, hey, if this guy could do it, we could do the same thing."
Now, Aroga wants nothing more than for the other FSA award-winners to keep following his lead as inspiration. As he put it, "After this, we gotta use this platform to empower the rest."
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